This week is the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) New Zealand Family Appeal Week.

The week is crucial in raising funds to help support families when their child is in a hospital away from home, during a difficult and stressful time.

To support the Family Appeal Week, RMHC launched #BuildAFort, a campaign that challenges New Zealanders to build a special home-made fort with their families, sharing their efforts on social media using the hashtag #BuildAFort, tagging @rmhcnewzealand and donating.

The aim is many forts will raise awareness of the family togetherness that RMHC New Zealand provides when a child is in hospital away from home.

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During this year's appeal, the charity aims to raise $320,000 so it may continue to provide ongoing services for families with a child in hospital, like a comfortable en suite bedroom to sleep in close to their child, and home cooked dinners.

Hamilton family the McLaughlins have been staying with RMHC New Zealand on and off since July 2016 when their son Hamish, only three at the time, was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of acute myeloid leukaemia.

Hamish needed a bone marrow transplant, but there were no perfect matches on the worldwide bone marrow register.

As a result, Hamish underwent a half-matched transplant, donated by his dad in November 2016.

Although the transplant initially looked successful, the bone marrow graft had been lost a couple of months later, and Hamish had to undergo a second transplant in April 2017.

During this difficult time, Hamish's family stayed at Ronald McDonald House in Auckland, 125km away from home, while Hamish underwent surgery and therapy nearby in the National's Children's Hospital.

RMHC New Zealand provided them with accommodation and support, as well as schooling for Hamish's older brother Elliot, who was five at the time.

Hamish's mum Haley McLaughlin is thankful for the support of RMHC New Zealand.

"RMHC New Zealand provided the physical and emotional support we needed while going through such a difficult time in our lives.

It allowed us to keep our family together and meant that Hamish had his family by his side during intense treatment and for this we will be forever grateful."

In total, the family has spent almost 258 nights at Ronald McDonald House.

Hamish, now five, is in remission and started school in April.

To help local families like the McLaughlins stay together when their child needs treatment, donate to RMHC New Zealand by texting 'FORT' to 4483 (to donate $3), or by visiting www.rmhc.org.nz/donate.